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Arras Memorial, France Arras Memorial, France
First Name: Thomas Henry Last Name: JACKSON
Date of Death: 23/05/1916 Lived/Born In: Stamford Hill
Rank: Lance Corporal Unit: London21
Memorial Site: 1. South Tottenham, St Anne 2. Arras Memorial, France

Current Information:



On 19th May, 1916, 47th Division sidestepped to the south and took over the Berthental and Carency sector of the Vimy Ridge, just to the north of Arras. Their arrival here coincided with a German onslaught against these positions which for the first 2 days took the form of a barrage of large trench mortars or Minenwerfers, known to the British soldier as “minnies”. But the full force of the German army was not felt until the next day, 21st May, 1916. The trench mortars continued to batter the British line until midday and then, at 3pm, after a lull, there began an intense artillery bombardment of the front from Royal Avenue to Momber and Love craters, the positions held by 7th London and 8th London of 140 Brigade  This bombardment not only covered the front but all the back positions too, including billeting villages 7 to 8 miles back.  All agreed that never before had such a ferocious artillery barrage been seen.  The enemy had 80 batteries with unlimited ammunition, firing on just a 1800 yard front and the agony continued for 4 hours with 70,000 shells being fired.  The smoke and dust mixed with the tear gas shells caused so much confusion that the British artillery were unaware of the infantry assault which the Germans  launched at 7.45pm when the German artillery lifted and a mine was fired at the head of Royal Avenue.  A minute later the German infantry attacked but they were not seen until they were half way across no-man’s land, advancing in lines at 3 yard intervals with other lines behind carrying wire, timber and machine guns. The trenches held by 140 Brigade were soon in their hands.

21st London of 142 Brigade were in billets in Estree-Cauchy when the attack was launched and that evening moved forward to Villers au Bois. On 22nd May they continued to move forward and relieved 20th London in the defensive flank that they had formed and hung on to the day before. Here they prepared to attack and regain the lost positions. At 8.25am on 23rd May, 1916, 21st London along with 24th London launched their assault and briefly retook the old front line, but without adequate support on their right they were soon bombed out of there. Undeterred they tried again assisted by the bombers of 22nd London, but again with the same results and they were forced back to the reserve line. During all this time the enemy was plastering the area with their artillery and many of the trenches were flattened. 21st London worked throughout the night to try to repair this damage and the next morning they were relieved and those not left behind dead, injured or missing returned to their billets in Estree –Cauchy. Among those who did not make the return trip was Thomas Jackson who was killed in action.

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